Obedience

Peer Pressure & Sin

In Haggai 2:12-19, God drives home a very telling point to the prophet. If we place an unclean thing together with a clean one, the cleanness of the latter will not rub off onto the former. If I rub my dirty and ink-stained hands on a clean towel, the cleanness of the towel will not rub off onto my hands: rather it is dirt that is transferred, and the towel becomes dirty.

By this means the Lord made clear to Haggai and Judah that sin is contagious, but righteousness is not. We are not Christians simply because we belong to a good church, a good family, or a fine community. Moreover, a good profession of faith does not make us holy or godly.

What happens when we sin?

If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.1 John 2:1

From time to time we hear - sometimes even in the secular media - of some prominent Christian who has fallen into scandalous sin. I remember when Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart very publicly got caught in sin, and they were neither the first nor the last people to endure those circumstances. When we see such famous people - famous, at least, in Christian circles - fall into sin, many questions can come into our minds.

Obviously we wonder whether these people are actually Christians - a legitimate question, though we have to be careful not to condemn on partial evidence, for what would someone think of us if he had no more hard facts than we receive through the media? There is also the question of what happens to such people if they are in fact truly regenerate. Sometimes it might seem that a sin is so public, and so egregious, that surely the person involved must have lost his salvation if he ever had it.

Of course to create doctrine based solely on our reason is dangerous - our minds are as fallen as any other part of us, and are as subject to malfunction as our hearts or eyes. We simply don't think clearly in this world - the most brilliant preachers and theologians in history (I think offhand of Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and J.I. Packer - with a little work I could extend the list a long way) have not been as brilliant as they would have been had there never been a fall. Every one of us, from little children just born to certified geniuses, suffer from the effects of the fall on our minds. This is one reason why we must always derive our doctrine from the Scriptures, and subject our doctrine to the Book, for there is no human mind capable of infallibly reasoning its way to the truth.

And when we think of the

At the Pleasure of the Savior (A Big Recovery Key)

One of my favorite series I catch on Netflix is "The West Wing." While watching it, I became aware of a standard response regarding the president's staff: "I serve at the pleasure of the President." I don't know if this response really exists or if it was just for dramatic purposes. But I started thinking about the service issue.

When I was thirteen, I served as a waitress for my cousin's wedding. Thank you. Yes, I'm still recovering. Let's just say I was not skilled. I tried not to spill food, break plates and grumble. It was not an easy feat. So, I had a negative view of serving.

But, alas, it's all over the place in Christianity, isn't it?

Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name." Deuteronomy 6:13

"...what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul," Deuteronomy 10:12

"If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour." John 12:26

Are You "Doing" or Actually Giving Your Heart?

God is not looking for you to "DO" more for him. He is simply and passionately looking for more "OF YOU". He is looking for more of your heart.

His constant passionate cry is:

My child, give me your heart. (Proverbs 23:26)

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show HIMSELF STRONG on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to him. (2 Chronicles 16:9a, NKJV)

You are at your best resting in His loving heart and grace, not in some piety or religious service and performance. Even though it may be well intentioned. "Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into (by faith through grace) what God does for you. True freedom develops best in the fierce battle to live loved and to love others by the fruit of grace."

The Christian may be like a ship tossed in a storm. Nobody on board may be aware that the ship is making headway at all. Yet it is sailing on at great speed (but not without resistance). Great winds and storms help fruit-bearing trees. So also do corruptions and temptations help the fruitfulness of grace and holiness...corruptions and temptations develop the fruit of humility, self-abasement and mourning in a deeper search for the grace by which holiness grows strong. But only later will there be visible fruits of increased holiness. (John Owen)

I Have No Idea Where I am Going (Prayer)

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think that I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road
though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore will I trust you always
though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,

Is it possible for a Christian to live without sinning?

Is it possible for a Christian to live without sinning?

I could say that I don't sin-but then I would be lying! There is no way that a person could live free of sin. Pride, selfishness, deceit, greed, lack of faith, or lust... all of those things are sin. But, remember, sin is not always what you do wrong; it is also what you fail to do right. Sin includes the needs around you that you ignore: It is the neighbor to whom you have not witnessed, it is the sick friend whose children you have not offered to baby-sit.

Consider the Consequences

Have you ever wished you could be somebody or have something? Of course! It’s within every human heart to dream, to wish, to fantasize about what might have been. The problem is, we often don’t become, don’t have because we haven’t paid the price. Even more importantly, how often do we get ourselves into a situation (because our wanting) without first understanding what it will cost us? And then, in the midst of everything, we regret where we are but are so enmeshed, we can’t extract ourselves.

Desire without knowledge is not good,
and one who moves too hurriedly misses the way.
Proverbs 19:2 NRSV

"Desire without knowledge..." To want something without understanding what it will cost. The Lord Jesus taught about this very plainly:

"For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?"Luke 14:28 NASB

Little Sins

"Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same — will be called least in the kingdom of Heaven." Matthew 5:19

A great many people are careful about breaking large commandments and committing heinous sins — while they commit "little sins" continually and without scruple.

They would not tell a direct lie for the world — but their speech is full of little falsehoods!

They would not steal money from the purse or drawer of another — and yet they continually commit small thefts! For example, by mistake the grocer gives them a penny too much change — and they do not think of returning it. Through the carelessness of a postal worker, the postage stamp on a letter is left uncancelled — and they take it off and use it a second time.

They would not purposely try to blacken a neighbor's name or destroy his character — and yet they repeat to others the evil whispers about him which they have heard, and thus soil his reputation.

They would not swear or curse in the coarse way of the ungodly — but they are continually using such minced oaths such as, Gosh! Gees! Heck! and other mild, timid substitutes for overt swearing.

They would not do flagrant acts of wickedness to disgrace themselves — but their lives are honeycombed with all kinds of little meannesses, impurities, selfishnesses, and bad tempers.

What are Your Choices?

There is an old proverb which says, "We would all be rich, if we didn't have to eat." This is simply another way of saying that we all have priorities, and we make our choices in terms of them.

Some men choose to be miserly on food, clothing, and shelter, because they value money so highly. They may like their family, but they love money more, and so they sacrifice everything to accumulate money. Others sacrifice for their children, and everything else takes second place in their lives.

Many other examples could be cited, but we can summarize it thus: we are always making choices, consciously or unconsciously, in terms of what we prize or love the most. Our choices reveal our faith.

Addictions - A Banquet in the Grave: Finding Hope in the Power of the Gospel (Book Review)

Addictions - A Banquet in the Grave: Finding Hope in the Power of the Gospel is a book for every Christian. Usually when we hear the word "addiction," our thoughts immediately leap to illegal drugs, alcohol, or nicotine. As the author correctly points out in this book, every Christian faces the temptation of addiction. The difference is some addictions are more acceptable than others. I can be addicted to books for example. Others can be addicted to food, credit cards, a beautiful yard, a hobby, work, or a multitude of other items in God's created order.

Welch rightly calls addictions sin. Addictions reveal a love of self and thus are idolatry. In the practice of them we put ourselves above God. Addictions are sin. This diagnosis will not be acceptable to many in our culture. But it is what we need to hear.

The author shows the pathway by which one can become addicted. More importantly he shows the only true way that slaves to addictions can be freed. Thus this volume is filled with hope for those who are tempted to or are already feasting on a "banquet in the grave."

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